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    Unauthorised Entry

    I wonder if anyone could help with a query after a confusing day trying to find out what my rights are?

    I am a tenant renting a house through a lettings agency. I have been waiting for repairs to be carried out since I moved in a year ago and I'd almost given up. However, I returned home last night at around midnight after leaving for work at around 8.30am to find that someone had entered my house and started on the repairs. The first clue was that my alarm wasn't on (I make sure it always is) and that there were muddy footprints in the hallway. There was dust and bits of rubble all over the floors and up the stairs. I went upstairs and found that all of the bathroom floor tiles had been removed and there was a big hole in the floor. My toiletries and cleaning things were piled up in the sink and top of the toilet along with a couple of my mugs (the repair men had obviously gone in my kitchen cupboards and fridge and helped themselves to a cup of tea). In the kitchen cupboards had been emptied on the floor (i nearly stood on my cassarole dish!) presumably to access pipes. My bucket was in the sink and things had also been moved in my bedroom. My mops have been used and are filthy so will have to replace those.

    I had the same feeling as when I was burgled and couldn't sleep. I had no inkling that anyone was going to enter my home yesterday and I couldn't find out who had been in until this morning.

    When I spoke to the lettings agency this morning they said they'd find out what had happened and call me back. They did so an hour later and informed me that they'd left a voicemail message on Thursday to inform me that my landlord had organised some contractors to come and do the repairs on the Friday. I didn't receive a voicemail and when I stated this they informed me that it wasn't their fault and my issue was with my mobile phone company and I should call them!!

    I said that they'd breached the contract and entered my home unlawfully as the contract states that the landlord should give 24 hours written notice and should get my permission first. It wasn't even the landlord that entered - he'd given a set of keys to some random plumber so I currently have no idea who has keys to my house and can gain access. I'm a female living on my own so I feel quite unsafe. Obviously they need to come back and I was told that they'd "probably" be someone back on Monday to lay new floor tiles.

    The agency person said there was no issue and that the (missing) voicemail was sufficient notice. I replied that I didn't think it was right and I would seek advise from the CAB. She retorted "you do that, take your contract with you, goodbye" and hung up on me.

    Do I have any rights here and is there anything I can do?

    #2
    You can change the locks but expect a section 21 - search here and you will find lots of threads on this matter. I am sorry you are having this problem - I would hate it.
    Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks Islandgirl

      It's in my contract that I can't change the locks. I think this is a one off incident and once the repairs are done it won't happen again. I'm happy that the repairs are finally being attended to. I suppose my main issue here is that I didn't get proper notice, and the fact that the contractors have helped themselves and used my stuff. Yes, it's only a few mops, mugs, teabags, milk etc but it's still my property and it's the fact that they've gone through my drawers and cupboards to find this stuff and I have no idea what else they went through whilst in my home yesterday.

      I was distraught this morning and the lack of sympathy or an apology from the agency has made me quite angry. Surely I have a right to protect my personal belongings and the fact that my alarm wasn't set when these people left has made me uneasy about them coming back on Monday (or whenever they see fit). I work full-time so I can't be here on Monday to keep an eye on things.

      I suppose I need to know if I'm absolutely in the right contractually and who to file a complaint to (other than the agency who will file it in the bin).

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Nottingham View Post
        I suppose I need to know if I'm absolutely in the right contractually and who to file a complaint to (other than the agency who will file it in the bin).
        Assuming the landlord isn't resident in the rental property, you are entitled to quiet enjoyment and to exclusive possession of the property (i.e. to live in the property without interference from the LL).

        While the issue of landlord access isn't wholly black and white, and the landlord does retain some rights of access (as per your contract), you are nevertheless within your rights to refuse access, and LL would then have to obtain a court order to gain access.

        You are also entitled to change the lock (regardless of what it says in your contract) provided you retain the original lock and reinstate it before the tenancy ends.

        As to who to complain to, there's the landlord, or, if the agent is a member of a professional body such as ARLA or NAEA etc, you could complain to them. The incident isn't serious enough to report to anyone - but if it were, that would be the private tenancies officer at the local council; the council have the power to prosecute for unlawful harassment/eviction. I should emphasize, however, that what happened does not constitute harassment, but a one-off breach of your right to quiet enjoyment.

        Make it clear to both the agent and landlord that it must not happen again. Change the lock (don't tell agent or landlord). If the agent is not a member of a professional body, make a note to self only to rent via an agent who is - it doesn't guarantee professional behaviour, but there's a better chance of it.

        See also the Shelter website, which has a wealth of information on tenants' rights. http://england.shelter.org.uk/

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks Westminster. Your advice is confirming that there's nothing I can do about this. Goodness know who and how many people have keys to my house this weekend and they can come in when they please.

          I don't want to change the locks as it's specifically in the contract that I can't do that. At the moment I feel that I'm a good tenant - I always pay my rent on time, I look after the house and I've made authorised improvements. I've previously allowed access at the 24 hours notice for inspections and things and taken time off work to make sure I'm present. If I start doing things in breach of the contract then I start being in the wrong.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Nottingham View Post
            If I start doing things in breach of the contract then I start being in the wrong.
            You are not 'in the wrong' if you do as advised, keep the original lock, and reinstate it at the end of the tenancy. It may be a minor technical breach, but landlord will have suffered no loss as a result of the breach, so has zero comeback.

            You are entitled to quiet enjoyment. If the landlord is handing out keys to the property to all and sundry, you are perfectly entitled to act to prevent access to strangers arriving without notice.

            Comment


              #7
              Nottingham - Westminster is telling you you CAN do something! Tell the agent you will agree to access at certain times of your choosing. CHANGE THE LOCK but keep the old one to put back when you leave. Simple. Problems over. Agent will be unhappy and may well issue section 21 - but you would not want to stay would you?
              Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me

              Comment


                #8
                I get the feeling that Nottingham WOULD want to stay though, and that an s21 WOULD be a major issue to her. And although Westminster is right about the locks, Nottingham is obviously more worried about the 'relationship' than the legal fine points.

                Nottingham, do you have the landlords contact details? You could contact him and explain about how you felt, having strangers trample through your home and disturing the place. You could mention 'quiet enjoyment' etc to drive the point home.

                Maybe, you could get his permission to change the locks, maybe you could offer to let him have a key (for his own peace of mind) on the condition it isn't released to agents or tradesmen?

                If you haven't got the contact details, then you can ask the agent (in writing) for them, they have to provide them within 21 days.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Snorkerz is right. I don't want to do anything that's going to nark the agency or the landlord. Even if I don't stay I would like a reference and I don't want to be asked to leave.

                  I don't have the landlord's details but will ask the agency. I didn't think I could contact him directly.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    If they refuse, it is section 1 of the 1985 Landlord & Tenant Act:

                    1 — (1) If the tenant of premises occupied as a dwelling makes a written request for the landlord’s name and address to—
                    (a)any person who demands, or the last person who received, rent payable under the tenancy, or
                    (b)any other person for the time being acting as agent for the landlord, in relation to the tenancy,
                    that person shall supply the tenant with a written statement of the landlord’s name and address within the period of 21 days beginning with the day on which he receives the request.
                    (2) A person who, without reasonable excuse, fails to comply with subsection (1) commits a summary offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.
                    (3) In this section and section 2—
                    (a)“tenant” includes a statutory tenant; and
                    (b)“landlord” means the immediate landlord.
                    The penalty for non compliance is a fine of up to £2500 (scale 4)

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I agree with Westminister, change the lock, problem over, as they would only find out if they try to get in without your permission, and put them back when you leave.

                      The only problem is that, if there was an emergency(Fire/Flood), and extra damage was caused, because LL/LA couldn't get in the house. Then it could be costly for you.

                      So changing the locks with the LL permission is best option, but I guess they would still want to have copies.
                      Disclaimer: What I say is either right or wrong. It may be advisable to check what I say with a solicitor. If he says I am right then I am right, unless he is wrong in which case I am wrong; but if he says I am wrong then I am wrong, unless he is wrong in which case I am right

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